Back in 2014, I was asking myself this question every single day. I kept trying to think of the answer but nothing came. I felt frustrated. I had so much drive and determination, I just didn’t know where to direct it. I felt stuck in the first job I got out of university because I didn’t know what else to do instead.
Since then, I’ve learnt that I’m not the only one who has ever felt like this. Our millennial generation wants more than just a job that’s OK and a secure, comfortable routine. We want to make the most out of our lives and not waste a single day of the few that we have on this planet.
The problem is, this creates a lot of pressure. We can feel so scared about having regrets and making the “wrong” decision, that we end up not making any decisions at all and getting stuck wherever we landed after graduation.
The fact that there are thousands of different career paths for you to take (50,000+ degree courses to choose from just in the UK!) doesn’t help our indecision. How on earth are you meant to choose just one thing to do?!
If all of this sounds familiar to you, I’ve written this article to help you start moving forwards again. Instead of “what should I do with my life?” we’ll be asking questions that you can actually answer!
Now, go get your favourite notebook, a pen and make yourself a cup of tea. Then settle down for some serious reflection time!
My favourite way of answering this is through online tests. I love just being told the answers to things!
Here are my favourite sites:
If you don’t like tests here are a couple of questions to help you out:
- What tasks do you find really easy at work that other people hate?
- What do your friends and family say you’re good at?
Why not send your friends a quick message asking what they think your strengths are and get some feedback right now?
What activities make me happy?
Do you get a smile on your face when you walk out in the woods or is it shopping on a Saturday that fills you with joy? List the activities that you really love doing in your notebook.
You’re looking for quality over quantity here but if you feel like you’re really scraping the barrell, rephrase the question. Ask yourself, what am I curious about trying?
I found that when I started this process I didn’t have that many things that made me happy but there were tons of things that I had always wanted to try. I gave them a go and sure enough some of those are now on my list of things that fill me with joy.
Who do I want to help?
Us millennials need meaning. I know many twenty-somethings who only care about money. If we want to earn millions, there are reasons behind it. Have a think about who it is you really want to help. Whose lives do you want to make lives easier? Is it young mothers or lonely older people? Mountain gorillas or city-dwellers?
Thinking about who you want to help and the impact you want to have will really help narrow down your options.
Where do I want to live for the next 2 years?
I’ve added this one in because I used to think way too much about the actual work I wanted to do. Obviously it’s important but not at the expense of the things you value.
If family means everything to you, then moving across the country to take your dream job probably isn’t going to be your recipe for happiness! On the other hand, if you are all about exploring new places, do you want to stick around in your hometown for the next two years?
Where you want to live will affect the jobs that are available to you. By answering this question you’ll have more of a focus for the next one.
How can I combine my strengths, the things I love doing and who I want to help into a job?
It’s time to get creative! Mix and match your strengths, interests and who you want to help to come up with a list of possible job ideas. There is no pressure with this! Have fun, be silly and use your creativity. If you’re really stuck just do a Google search e.g. “project management job with animals and outdoors” and see what pops up.
How can I test these ideas out?
The final and, I might argue, the most important step is testing these ideas out! You must take action and try out these ideas! Thinking is not going to give you a clear answer. I repeat, you must take action!
The way you are going to do this is to come up with a way of testing out at least one of your ideas this month. Why this month? Well, there is no time like the present is there?
Here are a few ways you could test your job ideas out:
- Shadowing someone for the day
- Information interviews
- Part-time work
- Getting a stall at a local event
- Arranging a class or workshop
- Selling online
- Creating a mini-online course
- Writing blog articles about it
- Trying it out on a friend
- Trying it out on yourself
I totally get that actually going out and testing your ideas is scary. You’re stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something completely new, so don’t rush yourself. It’s better to move forward slowly instead of not moving forward at all. Choose something that is a little scary but not too terrifying and do that first.
Right, we’ve come to the end of the list. If you haven’t already, take the time to answer these six questions. You could set yourself a time limit of 30 minutes so you don't get too hung up on this stage. Once you're done, put your notebook down and start taking action to discover what you really want to do next with your life!
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – this is my favourite self-improvement book of all time!
It will teach your how to not let your fear stop you testing out your career ideas and taking action.
7DAYSTODIRECTION– I've created this free 7 day course to show twenty-something women how to find their direction in 7 days. You’ll shortlist 3 career paths that are perfect for you.